• Jennifer Hooke

Compare Less, Feel More. Begin your Health and Fitness Journey Here

We don’t have tomorrow, we have this moment. Maximize each moment by living out your true potential. YOUR true potential, not anyone else’s. It’s so easy to view someone else’s awesome and inspiring life through their “highlight reel” that we see on the surface without knowing their raw footage. Remember- not one person was created the same. Not one person experiences the exact same walk through life.

Fitness routines, exercise classes, gym sessions, HIIT, weights, cardio OH MY! Where does one begin!? That overwhelming topic of needing to get started someway, somehow. No matter the reason for your new fitness quest, give yourself a gentle reminder that we were meant to live for so much more; to THRIVE not just survive. So, compare yourself less to others, compare yourself less to images you paint in your mind, compare your program or exercise movement less to the person next to you and focus on FEELING good through the actions you’re living out.  

“Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others.  Assume your own responsibility.”

So, where to start? Well, what are the desires of your heart? If you think of a gym setting and get instant anxiety; you may not want to start there! I’m not saying to do what’s comfortable, but you know yourself better than ANYONE. Starting off on the wrong foot might discourage you from something that could change your life. Know there are options!
Gyms/ Fitness Centers/ Personal Training Studios usually offer a free trial. ALWAYS try something before you dive in. I’m a big “vibe” person. So, personally, when I meet someone or walk into a place- I listen to my vibes. Sounds funny to admit and say out loud! Ha! Anyhow, in this atmosphere, you have options. You can sign up for personal training- get some guidance and learn your body. You can try group classes, however, with these workouts I recommend that you already have body awareness. It’s very easy to get lost in the comparison world, try to keep up with the person next to you and get hurt or overwork yourself over proper progression. Get outside! Go for a walk, a jog, a bike ride, a swim, yard work, etc. Your muscles are engaging in all of these movements; you just have to know how to challenge yourself a bit here. It’s easy to just go for a casual stroll - and don’t get me wrong, some days you NEED that - but change happens with gradual progressive loads. I recommend getting yourself an inexpensive heart rate monitor and set some goals for yourself. If your heart rate is the same walking (sometimes hustling) through target as it is on your jog or bike ride… then pick it up a notch! I’ll challenge myself with visual aids like running harder to the 3rd mailbox or swimming a hard lap and doggy paddling back. Swimming is obviously not my strong suit :) Feel your body move, work in heart rate zones or “rate of perceived exertion” zones if you don’t have a heart rate monitor. Challenge yourself, let the endorphins carry you into that euphoric state and best of all FEEL GOOD about your movement! Crossfit or High Intensity Group Trainings: if you’re entering one of these you know yourself already and get excited for the competitive edge or love taking on those challenges! These are great for YOU, then. You will be encouraged, you will be held accountable, you will push yourself and either be PROUD and feel accomplished…. Or injured. Again, and you’ll probably hear this a few more times, but listen to your body. Ever hear the saying “Train Hard, Recover Harder”?? You better say yes, because my first blog post mentioned it :) This is 100% true, though! So stretch, learn how to take care of your muscles and body outside of the hard work you’re putting in. Intense challenges and sessions require flexibility/ yoga/ range of motion work to continue this performance based training.   Online fitness programs: Go for it! Listen to the disclaimers and be comfortable in your own home. This requires a ton of self-discipline and if you have had previous injuries I recommend working with a professional first to help you get to know your body and it’s limits. Find accountability partners if you’re lacking in the self-discipline setting. Ultimately, don’t set yourself up for something short term that might last a week, these programs might not be for you. This is a fitness journey; your journey; an opportunity to do something you’re not only proud of, but also to walk your walk and be your best self. Show yourself some love! In home personal training. If you genuinely would like to move better and are intimidated or afraid of those gym atmospheres, then this might be something you could look into. Mobile trainers typically bring their own equipment, sometimes none is needed, and work with your body as it’s capable. A good trainer will assess your movements and LISTEN to your goals. If you don’t get that vibe and feel like an assembly line client, then move on. I’m not trying to put down fitness professionals, I encourage them, but not all fitness professionals are driven by a like minded passion to help you move more and feel better doing so. Anyhow, talk to your potential trainer- you should be comfortable spilling your beans and getting to know them a bit before investing. Yoga/Pilates Studio: Similar to a gym, be sure to trial these first. These are excellent, but every person responds differently to a group setting or these types of movements. Some individuals LOVE the yoga flows and others love the long holds; some love it hot and sweaty while others prefer some AC. Some love mat/core work and others love those pilates reformers. Like all previously listed, try it. Talk to the instructors, open up the opportunity for them to know YOU. They can better help you in this group setting. (This reminds me of college, when my mom always advised me to talk to the professor in those huge class settings.. I never did and here I sit telling you to do the same! AH the joys of maturity and the probable statement of “If I only listened to my mom back then.”) Benefits of Cardio and Strength Training: Both are excellent! Cardio is great for your heart health, but so is strength training. Cardio also helps a BEGINNER develop a baseline fitness level. If you’re starting from scratch, then spend a week or two working on cardio so you’re not putting your heart in an overworked position with an end result of shakiness or dizziness during a workout. Endurance athletes primarily work with cardio, but supplement with strength training to boost their performance. We’re all athletes in our own life and certainly at different levels; but our goals are similar- master movements and perform better! The main difference between cardio and strength training are the energy systems required to perform such forms of exercises- I touched base on this in the previous blog. Cardio will always tap out your carbohydrate stores before tapping into fat stores as fuel - based on intensity. If you’re intensity is high for a long time you are potentially needing to keep carbohydrates as a fuel. When that’s tapped out it will source to your muscle rather than pull from fat stores! This is BAD!!! (Nerd alert: this is called Gluconeogenesis: the creation of a new glucose molecule- which is formed from your amino acid chain). Strength training is fueled by carbohydrates so it’s best to do this before cardio if you plan on doing both in the same hour. Working your muscles ALSO works your heart as there is a high demand for blood flow to the working muscles. Combination forms of training are the HIIT or circuits where you might incorporate both strength and cardio movements in the same workout. Multi-tasking at it’s finest! This is great to help break up monotony or boredom and boost your performance or metabolism, but is not recommended your first week of beginning your fitness journey. I will discuss topics like this further down the line of blogging, don’t worry! There you have it! Don’t be afraid to take that first step. Focus on YOU. Don’t compare your activity with anyone else’s. Keep the joy in your journey and listen to that body of yours- take care of it with a proud and happy heart and you will FEEL much better. Now, embark away! Your fitness journey awaits…. Stay tuned for Blog Post #4: When the Spirit is Willing but the Body is Weak... Cheers to good fuel for our mind, body and soul! Until next time, Jennifer Hooke NSCA- CPT, CSCS INNERSTRENGTH SPORT AND WELLNESS, LLC www.innerstrengthorlando.com
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